Facetime, Facebook, Whatsapp, and Skype have all revolutionised the way we communicate, whether that is with family and friends or business video conference across the world. We have moved away from costly international telephone calls but are we appreciating the true cost of higher data usage bills instead?

Many people are surprised to discover that the amount of data used on video calling varies depending on which apps are used. Apple’s Facetime is typically found to use the least data but may not always be a viable option as you can only call fellow Apple users.

How much data does Facetime use?

Video calling on Facetime using your mobile data plan will use approximately 130mb to 180mb per hour, depending on your version of iOS. If you keep your iOS updated your data usage will be towards the lower figure, however you should always keep up to date with the latest iOS news as this may change in the future.

It is possible to restrict your ability to make and receive Facetime calls when there is no Wi-Fi connection in order to avoid excess data usage. Go to Settings, then Mobile Data, scroll to Facetime and use the slider to turn mobile data off.

How much data does a Whatsapp video call use?

Whatsapp video calls have been found to use the most data in independent tests, approximately 25mb for a 5 minute video call can be expected. This adds up to 300mb after an hour of video calls – approximately double the amount used by Facetime.

To reduce Whatsapp call data usage go to Settings, Data and Storage Usage and under Call Settings select ‘Low Data Usage’. This may affect your video call quality.

How much data does a Facebook Messenger video call use?

A Facebook Messenger call can be one of the most convenient ways to reach your Facebook contacts. Data usage for an hour of calls is approximately 260mb. Again, it is important to take measures to reduce your data usage during Facebook Messenger calls by making sure that you are on a wifi connection where possible.

How much data does a Skype video call use?

Skype app-to-app video calls use approximately 225mb for an hour of calls, slightly less than Facebook and Whatsapp calls.

If video quality isn’t important for your call you can reduce the amount of data used during video calls by reducing the video call quality in your Skype app settings.

Although data usage for video calls can be small for the short 5-10 minute calls here and there, this can quickly add up if the calls become longer and more regular. Look at the data usage for a video call against your overall data usage limit for the month to work out how many calls you can comfortably conduct over your mobile data, don’t forget to take into account your normal day-to-day data usage.

You can save your mobile data by having as many of your calls as possible via a Wi-Fi connection and ensuring that your apps are all optimised for data-saving.

How can the Apps2Data app help?

If you are a frequent user of video calling apps you may benefit from the Apps2Data service. By monitoring data usage throughout the day you can pinpoint any particular calls which were heavy on data and be aware of   this in future. With an overall picture of your, or your business data usage throughout the month, Apps2Data puts you back in control.